Learning to fight better, accept more, appreciate daily and stay in love with my husband

Archive for January, 2013

You Can Be Right (or you can be married)

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That is the title of the book that is currently sitting on my nightstand.

I recently had a small epiphany.  I realized that I talk a lot about my marriage and I spend a lot of time and energy working to make it the best that I can, but I have been missing something. Books!  I had not read one single book on the subject.

Now, I do realize that just because it is written in a book certainly doesn’t mean that it is fact, but there is definitely something to be said about learning what the “experts”, or non-experts for that matter, are saying on the topic.

So I hit the local Barnes and Noble and started my hunt for my first book on “marriage.”  Since I didn’t know what I was looking for, I simply looked for titles that caught my eye.  After a few minutes of searching I came across one that definitely grabbed my attention.  It is titled, “You can be right (or you can be married). ”   Great title and great cover.  I bought it on site without even cracking the cover and, let me say, I am glad that I did.

This is a book written by Dana Adam Shapiro, a man on a mission to find out why his relationships never make it to the Honeymoon. His mission took him on a 4 year journey interviewing people who have been thru divorce in hopes to learn from the errors of their ways and attempt to avoid those mistakes in his own relationships.  What a great concept!

This is a candid and sometimes graphic look into other people’s marriages spoken thru their own words.  He interviewed hundreds of people and put the interviews into this book in a dictation type format.  Because the names are protected thru aliases, the interviews are frank, honest and often no holds bar.

It is fascinating to get a glimpse into the lives of others.  To hear first hand what their secrets might be, what regrets they have, what lessons they have (or sometimes haven’t) learned.

Growing up, we don’t get an education in relationships. There are no classes offered on building healthy relationships in high school. Such a shame since our relationships are the foundation of our lives.  Relationships with parents, friends, co-workers, bosses, spouses….

With regards to love, our lessons come from watching our parents.  Watching their marriage or divorce, paying attention to how they communicate, how they fight or face challenges.  If you were lucky enough to have good role models in that arena, you might be among the few.  Many of us come from ugly divorces or from parents who, maybe, should have gotten a divorce.

When it comes to learning how to develop healthy relationships, many of us are on our own.  It is a process of trial and error.  Sometimes with the same person, sometimes not. What I do realize, though, is that it is incredibly valuable to learn from other people’s experiences.  Whether it be from your parents or complete strangers, we all have so much to learn, but so much to teach as well.

That is what I appreciated about this book.  The ability to learn from someone else’s failed marriage.  What did or didn’t work?  Looking back, what would they have done differently?  What  lessons have they taken with them into their other relationships to avoid the same outcome?

One thing that I found interesting, is the similarities in the lessons that were learned and the underlying themes that rang true in so many of the interviews. Things that so many of the divorcees confessed to being vital to a marriage’s success; respect, communication, acceptance, a healthy sex life, a sense of newness and excitement. Through all of the various stories of failed marriages, so many of the mistakes are similar. So many of the lessons were the same.

If you are looking for an interesting read on how to improve you marriage, this just might be a good pick. Listening to other people’s regrets and mistakes can be the best education of all. Truly!

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: Learn from others’ successes and (sometimes more valuable) their failures.

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How to Make a Marriage Last!

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“How to Make a Marriage Last”

That was the title of a small article in the February edition of Redbook magazine.  Of course it caught my eye.  How do you make a marriage last?

This little article was simply a handful of tips from couples that have been together since they were teenagers.  Hubby and I have been together, exclusively, since we were 14 years old.  I couldn’t wait to hear what these other couples, with stories similar to mine, had to offer about the secret of a lasting marriage.

There were two pieces of advice that I really liked that I wanted to share with you.  They are lessons I have learned in my own marriage.

The first was from a couple that had been together since they were 17 years old.  They said, “Prioritize time for yourselves. My husband’s hobby is running and mine is performing stand-up comedy.  We plan vacations around his marathons, and he attends all of my shows.  We love our date nights, but everyone needs something that matters just to them.”

As I am approaching 15 years of marriage, I have come to realize the importance of this in my own marriage.  It is so easy to lose your own identity as you try to please everyone around you, especially your spouse.  In the last couple of years, I have tried to be more supportive of my husband’s hobby of playing basketball.  It is extremely important to him to get a few times a week to go to the gym and hit a pick up game.   He loves it!  Who am I to deny him of time that makes him so happy?   Now, I will often push him out the door.  He deserves time for himself.

I have also discovered my own need for time to do something, all of my own, as well.   It feels so good to do something just for me sometimes.  For the past year, my sister and I have been taking a hip hop class once a week and just recently I signed up for a weekly guitar class.  I love them both so much!  It is time, just for me.  For personal growth that is all my own.

I agree with the couple.  It is vital to have something of your own, that is supported by your spouse and that makes you happy.  You are a part of a couple, but you are still you. . .  an individual.  Do something, just for you!

The other piece of advice that I liked came from a couple who had been together since they were 16.  They said, ” Act like your marriage is a job.  Treat it as if you were climbing the corporate ladder.  Address your challenges, work overtime when needed, and plan meetings to discuss how you’re doing.  It’s the most important gig you’ll ever have.”

I love this, because it is so true.  It seems people work their tails off to be good at their jobs, to get the good review, promotion or raise.  Being successful at marriage, takes the same principles.  It is hard work.  That is the bottom line.   I have realized that if I want my marriage to be awesome, then I have to really work at it.  I have to give it attention, I have to work thru problems and get better. I have to talk about what is or isn’t working so that I know how or what to improve on.  Just as in a job, if you stop working at it, then the promotions and raises stop coming.   Even though it can be exhausting at times, working at my marriage continuously has the most incredible payoff.  It is the best kind of promotion!

Today’s lessons in improving my marriage:   Continue to take time for my self doing things that make me happy and never stop working hard at my marriage.  Thanks Redbook! http://www.redbookmag.com/

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Jingle Bells Kicked My Ass

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Excuse my language, but it is the truth.  The holidays took a definite toll.

Truthfully, I can’t blame the holidays.  I am the one to blame.  I just took on too much.  So much that it took away from the joy that you are supposed to find during the season.

Frankly, I was excited for it to be over. Sad, I know.  And the second that it was I came down with a horrific cold that I am still battling today.   I literally ran myself into the ground and my body was pissed about it.

Why did I do that to myself? Why do we all tend to do that to ourselves?

A large part of it, I have come to realize, is my incessant need to make sure everyone around me is happy.  Even if it makes me miserable.

I am blessed to have two children, but not so blessed to have both of their birthdays fall during the holiday season.  My son is right at Thanksgiving and my daughter is a few days before Christmas.

We always have a party for the kids birthdays. Unfortunately, I am not skilled in hosting small parties.  I always find myself making things bigger than they need to be.

This year I made the mistake at having both of the parties at our house.  Those parties along with hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve as well as hosting friends and family during the holidays, made for a very overwhelmed and unhappy Mama and Wife.

I think I do a good job of holding it together in front of the kids and friends and family.  Unfortunately, that means my husband takes the brunt of my insanity.

It’s kind of an out-of-body experience.  I run through each day trying to tick off the things on my endless to do list, snapping at hubby at every turn, only to crash at the end of the day and start all over with the same madness the next morning.  I couldn’t even sleep well because my head was so full of what I had to accomplish the next day.

Sure, everyone had a really great Christmas, but would it have really made a difference if I had baked one less batch of cookies? Or would it have ruined Christmas if I hadn’t gone to 3 stores to find that extra thing for the stockings?  I’m sure it wouldn’t have.

Luckily, it seems that husband still loves me, or at least he says he does 🙂 Maybe all of that hard work that we put into the marriage the rest of the year paid off.  It allowed us to cut each other some slack when we really needed it.

Today’s lesson in improving my marriage: My New Years resolution in 2013 is to not pack so much in during the holidays this year. My husband deserves better from me.  I deserve better from me.

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